PM declares Yingluck’s old rice ‘delicious’
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PM declares Yingluck’s old rice ‘delicious’

Defence minister says army might consider buying decade-old grain to serve to soldiers

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin arrives at Government House on Thursday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin arrives at Government House on Thursday. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has declared that the 10-year-old rice kept in warehouses in Surin province tastes “delicious”.

The decade-old rice was on the menu when the premier had lunch with his team on Thursday at Government House. It came with six side dishes including khai look khoei, or deep-fried boiled egg with sweet fish sauce glaze, stir-fried chicken with basil and chicken green curry.

A source said that the premier said it was “delicious”.

When asked how many times the rice was washed before it was cooked, the source declined to comment.

The premier later told reporters that it tasted like normal rice. But the colour was not as white as new rice, he said, while adding that overall, there was no difference.

During a warehouse visit in Surin on Monday, Commerce Minister Phumtham Wechayachai led a team of about 30 people, including media, to inspect the rice that has been kept in two warehouses for 10 years since the Yingluck Shinawatra administration’s controversial rice-pledging scheme.

Mr Phumtham also ate the rice, which had been washed up to 15 times before being cooked. When asked about public concerns related to aflatoxin and chemical contamination that could lead to cancer, Mr Phumtham said on Thursday that he had already proved the rice was edible.

“The colour of the rice might be a bit yellowish but after being cooked, it is still in good condition. No one complained about its taste,” he said.

When asked if the 15,000 tonnes of rice would be sold to Thai people or for export, Mr Phumtham said there is demand for old rice in Africa, but the amount on its own is not even enough for an export shipment, he said.

Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang, meanwhile, has welcomed the idea of the ministry procuring the decade-old rice, which the Ministry of Commerce plans to sell, for catering to soldiers, saying that as long as the rice is proven to be of good quality, the armed forces will be more than happy to help buy it.

The armed forces has from time to time helped buy rice and fruits from farmers during times when prices plummeted due to an oversupply, said Mr Sutin.

“As for the quality of the rice, we will see if claims of the good quality are to be believed,” he said. “Although Mr Phumtham’s tasting the rice could guarantee the rice’s quality to some extent, a formal test on the rice’s quality may bring more confidence.”

However, the minister conceded that he wasn’t sure if rice from the decade-old pledging scheme could also be used for barter trade. It has been suggested that the navy’s submarine procurement project could include an offer of Thai agricultural products to China.

“Well, I don’t know. If they want it we will give it to them,” said Mr Sutin, referring to the Chinese government.

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